On Sunday, Oct. 31, students in Southern Baptist churches will have the opportunity to be immediately baptized after a profession of faith in Christ, or if they haven’t yet been baptized.
Student Baptism Sunday is patterned after Baptism Sunday.
Shane Pruitt, Next Gen director, and Paul Worcester, director of collegiate evangelism, for the North American Mission Board, hosted a podcast on www.namb.net with guest Johnny Hunt, senior vice president of evangelism for NAMB.
In response to the question of why student baptisms have declined, Hunt said student pastors either didn’t present the gospel very often or didn’t give an opportunity to respond when they did.
“I believe the reason we’re not seeing more saved, is because they’re not there to hear the gospel,” he added. “We’ve lost the art of invite. One of the greatest things is to invite their friends to come.”
‘Why Baptism Sunday?’
Every pastor and leader in the Southern Baptist Convention wants to lead students to the Lord, Hunt acknowledged, but budgets and schedules may say something “other than.” While NAMB can support student pastors and ministries, they can’t do the work of the local church, he noted.
“We are attempting to help [student pastors] prioritize what is indeed a priority,” Hunt said about Student Baptism Day.
In an article titled, “Why Baptism Sunday?” linked through NAMB’s website, J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina and former SBC president, discussed Baptism Sunday.
“For several years now, I have been greatly burdened by the declining number of baptisms across the Southern Baptist Convention. I believe the baptism numbers serve as one of the best indicators of evangelism in our churches,” Greear wrote. “That’s why I’m challenging every Southern Baptist church to call for baptisms in services on September 12, the date our SBC Executive Committee has designated as ‘Baptism Sunday’ on the SBC Calendar.”
That emphasis will be followed up by Student Baptism Sunday.
‘Spontaneous and immediate’
“I understand the concerns,” Greear said about immediate baptism. “I have seen dangerous and irresponsible calls for spontaneous baptisms. God forbid that we ever declare someone ‘saved’ when they aren’t.
“Not only does this give them false assurance, but it also makes them that much more immune to future calls to repent and believe.”
However, in the article Greear writes, “After all, every single baptism recorded in the New Testament, without exception, is spontaneous and immediate. For New Testament believers, the pattern was alarmingly simple: Believe, confess, get baptized. There was never a gap between when a person trusted Christ and when that person was baptized. Not one.”
In a video answering, “How do I plan for Baptism Sunday in my church?” Danny Franks, pastor of guest services at The Summit Church, provides practical tips. “For the purposes of this video, we’re moving away from the why and the what,” he says, “and moving straight for the how.
- Bring together a team of at least the pastor preaching that Sunday, the worship leader and the discipleship leader to coordinate the baptism service.
- Order supplies including towels, shorts, t-shirts, hair dryers, deodorant and hair products, reducing objections for baptism candidates.
- Recruit a logistics team with counselors to talk to those who are interested in baptism, someone to record and review the baptismal candidates’ information, a person to help with clothing changes, and a “tank boss,” someone just outside the baptismal pool who keeps track of how many are still in counseling, still need to be baptized, are changing clothes or are “on their way.”
- Make sure to follow up, encouraging the newly baptized to join a Sunday School class or small group, a new members class, or meet for coffee or a one-on-one Bible study.
“We simply aren’t serving people well if we encourage them to be baptized but then don’t have any other step after that,” Franks says. “This process will look different for different churches. What we know from the parable of the sower is that seeds take root in good soil. We don’t want to be responsible for seeds being snatched away because we view baptism as a ‘one and you’re done’ pep rally.”
For more information about Student Baptism Sunday visit https://www.namb.net/evangelism/baptism-sunday/#guide. Find more Next Gen resources at GenSend.org.